Despite Green Light, Many Mass. Houses Of Worship Won't Convene In-Person
Episcopalians in Massachusetts are saying no church before July 1.
The United Church of Christ in the state is saying nothing before the end of summer.
The Unitarians want to wait until next year.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Boston expects less than 20% of its 280 churches to be open this weekend.
And the Baptists are still trying to figure out how to safely do baptisms in the age of the coronavirus.
"Full immersion baptisms are going to be out of bounds for a real long time, I think," said Rev. Laura Everett, who heads the Massachusetts Council of Churches.
She said most members will continue to livestream services this weekend, despite Gov. Charlie Baker giving houses of worship the all clear to gather — albeit at 40% capacity, socially distanced and wearing masks.
"There's what is legal and there's what is wise," said Everett. "This Monday, Governor Baker said it was lawful for people to enter their houses of worship, but it may not be beneficial ... we are still in the midst of a pandemic."
Everett said COVID-19 is especially a concern for older people and people with underlying health conditions. She said faith leaders have to consider who will be safe in their churches, mosques and temples.
"If only the healthy people, if only the middle-aged people can go into buildings , is that really church?" she asked. "If we have to leave behind the sick and the lonely, or the very old, is that church?"
She knows that for many, fellowshipping and doing religious rituals with others is a big part of their faith. Though, it seems most members of the Massachusetts Council of Churches are holding off for now.
There's what is legal and there's what is wise.Rev. Laura Everett
You might be hard-pressed to find many houses of worship from any faiths meeting up in person in Massachusetts. The largest mosque in the state, the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center in Roxbury, won't gather to celebrate Eid.
But faith leaders opening their sanctuaries this week contend that sharing a faith in a shared space is a form of healing.
Rabbi Dan Rodkin, who heads The Shaloh House in Brighton, said his congregation will gather in-person on Saturday for adults. No children.
In the town of Webster, Saints Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church will operate on a first-come, first-served basis. They're limiting attendance to 40 people.
"A highlight of our life as Orthodox Christians is worshiping together," said Father Luke Veronis. "Over the last two months, we've been looking forward to the day when churches would be reopened ... communities of faith are essential in the lives of countless people, especially during times of challenge."
Veronis said his congregation is coming together "with trepidation." Everyone attending service will have to wear masks. The church will provide gloves for those who want them. There will be no choir singing. But people can sing hymns from the pews — three people per pew, with every other pew empty.
"I'm telling my community please be very careful. Only come if you feel comfortable and feel the need to come," Veronis said. "If you have any hesitation, don't come right now."
He said God willing, his church will be meeting for the foreseeable future.
"The church will be careful in all that we do," Veronis said. "Hopefully make sure that no one catches the virus while they're in the church."